By Edwin Folven, 12/22/2011
Plans Call for Site to Also Include a Park
A long vacant lot in Hollywood that is considered an eyesore is on its way to becoming a thriving community garden and park through a project being moved forward by Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti, 13th District, and the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council (EHNC).
The site, located at 1175 N. Madison Ave. near Vermont Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard, has been vacant for more than a decade after a fire heavily damaged two buildings at the location, said Elson Trinidad, a founding member of the EHNC and a member of its community garden steering committee. Garcetti and the community council had long sought to create a neighborhood-serving project at the site. The city council approved approximately $1.6 million in funding on Dec. 14 to acquire the property and begin work on the garden and park. Approximately $1.5 million will come from previously approved city community development grants, and the remainder will come from a Parks First Trust Fund grant. Garcetti said the garden project is badly needed in the densely-populated, urban neighborhood.
“We’ve nearly tripled the number of parks in my district by getting creative, which we have to be since these are some of L.A.’s oldest and densest areas,” Garcetti said. “This garden replaces a vacant lot with much-needed green space and a vibrant community gathering place.”
Garcetti’s deputy, Yusef Robb, said the project will likely begin taking shape by next summer. The plan is to split the 8,500-square-foot site in half to create both the garden and park. Like the Fountain Community Gardens at 5620 Fountain Ave., residents will be able to sign up for plots to grow fruits and vegetables, although that process will be held at a yet to be determined future date. Just the prospect of having a community garden in the area, however, has many people excited, Trinidad said.
“We have a lot of blight in our neighborhood, and having a garden will be a great thing,” Trinidad said. “It’s definitely something that is needed in the community, where we have a huge deficit of park space. Whenever I talk about the project, people get excited, particularly about the garden. I would anticipate a huge demand for plots.”
Hollywood resident Stephen Box, an advocate for more green space in the Hollywood area, said the new park and garden will be a benefit to both residents and visitors.
“I know the project, and know the process to secure the funding took a great deal of effort. It is a good example of members of the community working together with city hall,” Box said. “A community garden does more than just provide food for the gardeners, it brings people together. It is a tremendous quality of life improvement.”
Robb added that the project is part of Garcetti’s efforts to create more parks, and added that it will also help to improve public safety. He said when Garcetti took office in 2001, there were 13 parks within the 13th District, and now the Madison Avenue project will bring the number to 39.
“This area is in dire need of new park space, and we had been trying to identify a piece of land for a couple of years now,” Robb added. “Gardens are a gathering place for people young and old, and provide a public safety benefit because people are out there at all times of the day. We want to give people more places to congregate, more places to hang out. An empty lot serves nobody, so we want to put these empty lots to use.”